An almost capacity crowd filled out The Great Room in Auckland’s Langham Hotel last Thursday night as over 800 finance industry professionals and assorted hangers-on convened at the 14th annual INFINZ Awards.
The prizes spanned 15 categories including best equity and bond manager with Salt Funds Management and Fisher Funds respective winners.
Headed by Paul Harrison and Matthew Goodson, the former BT Funds Management NZ equities business, Salt, which launched just three years ago held off Mint Asset Management, Pie Funds and Milford Asset Management to take out the best share manager prize.
Fisher was competing with two other managers – ANZ and last year’s winner, AMP Capital – for the top bond gong.
Daniel Kieser, founder of ‘crowd-sourced’ equity research platform Shareclarity, was also named emerging leader of the year in a new category sponsored by the University of Auckland Business School.
First NZ Capital earned the sharebroking firm of the year title with one of its employees, Arie Dekker, also named best research analyst in the 2016 awards.
Keynote speaker, Financial Markets Authority (FMA) chief, Rob Everett, urged the INFINZ crowd to take the industry’s reputational risks seriously.
Everett said while the reputation of the New Zealand financial sector had fared better than most jurisdictions post GFC – despite the finance company rout – the industry had no cause for complacency.
He said the introduction of new legislation, including the Financial Markets Conduct Act, has helped lift standards but industry leaders also had responsibility for setting an appropriate culture in their businesses.
In contrast to some industry bodies, INFINZ has grown strongly in recent years. Earlier this month the organisation boasted its membership had increased by over 60 per cent in the two years ending March 31, growing from 735 in 2014 to the current level of about 1,200.
A large chunk of that growth has come in the youth market with members aged under 35 increasing five-fold over the same two-year period, up from 75 as at March 2014 to almost 500 as per the latest statistics.
At the same time, female membership now comprised 23 per cent compared to just 13 per cent two years ago, INFINZ said in a statement early in May
“INFINZ has now doubled total membership since formation in 2002 from the merger of the NZ Society of Corporate Treasurers and the NZ Society of investment Analysts,” the statement says. “Having achieved our medium term objectives, we now wish to reset the goalposts to enhance the contribution we make to the markets and the professionals within it.”
The group planned to build its presence outside its traditional Wellington and Auckland strongholds, the INFINZ release says, starting with Christchurch and Tauranga.